Just a quick note to let everyone know that there is a new podcast posted to Associations Unorthodox, the first podcast I've done in a month. I'll be podcasting again later in the week. Please check it out!
BIG NEWS: As of right now (10:55 pm on 2/2/04) you can download a FREE COPY of the HBR 20 Breakthrough Ideas from the website I listed above. Just look for the link in the frame marked "Harvard Business Review." I don't have any idea how long the offer will last...
For issues #3 and #2, I've decided to do a single post to make sure I get both of them in before the year comes to a close. In 2005, I am convinced that both new science and technology (#3) and intangibles (#2) will become more important issues for all associations. On the sci-tech front, we are beginning to see some extraordinary developments in a range of fields, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetics and computing. I'm not saying that understand it all...but it is very cool and important stuff and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. The reason I'm trying to learn is that it is becoming increasingly clear the emerging scientific revolution of the next decade is going to have a profound impact on every facet of human endeavor and we had better start getting ready for it right now.
As for intangibles, we're not so much talking about a new issue as one that's been largely neglected. Associations are organizations that can create value only by working with their intangible assets, such as knowledge, networks and relationships, brand, and reputation and influence. With the possible exception of the advocacy arena, I would submit that most associations do a terrible job of managing and fully leveraging these intangible resources. I also would argue that many associations suffer under the crushing weight of their "intangible liabilities," such as ineffective governance structures, member intransigence and politically-motivated (instead of strategic) decision-making.
For me, #5 of the Top Five Issues of 2005 in the association community is the impending death of best practices. If I sit in one more meeting and hear someone say, "Oh, and maybe people can share some 'best practices'," I think I am going to SCREAM! Best practices are a concoction of some consultant, somewhere who wanted to try to sell some more consulting. I suppose on that basis I should love them. BUT I DON'T! I do admit, however, that the "impending death of best practices" may be more wishful thinking on my part than anything else. Still, let me start making my case and give others the chance to join the chorus or excoriate me for being wrong! ;>)
Merry Christmas one and all. The TAIB doesn't stop for the holiday! Recently, I've noticed increased interest in the subject of community in the association world, so I'm going to post "on community" more regularly. Here is my first brief post.
A couple of weeks ago, Association Trends published a short item on a recent survey that revealed 61% of associations believe "online" communities are important to their business strategies. My question is this: what "strategies" are associations trying to advance by pursuing communities? Are they trying to support learning? Is it about knowledge? Are they trying to catalyze innovation? Whatever the specific strategy, it is absolutely essential that our organizations be crystal clear about it before pursuing the challenging work of building and sustaining community. Technology can provide a powerful collaboration and communications structure for community, but it can't ever be a substitute for a well-articulated strategy that provides the substantive approach and operational focus communities need to succeed.
For those of you who have not seen it yet (or perhaps don't receive the magazine), I am quoted quite a bit in an article in this month's issue of Executive Update. The article, "Turning Member Smarts into Organizational Knowledge," discusses what steps associations can take to leverage their members' knowledge to help better educate staff so they can serve member needs more effectively. The writer, Jennifer Salopek, included several quotes from me about the importance of harnessing knowledge and incorporating it into organization-wide conversations, rather than simply focusing on capturing, storing and packaging it.
This article is rather timely because I think that many associations are just now trying to unravel the mystery of how to leverage knowledge as a true intangible. The production mentality is not working at all well and a fresh approach is needed. Fortunately, we have years of mixed to dismal corporate sector performance (with some success rolled in there as well) from which we can learn and avoid making the same mistakes! The good news is that there is a better way of thinking about these questions, some which comes through in this article. I encourage everyone to read it, and not just for my pithy insights! Great job Jennifer!
Just a quick note to say that in my recent Association Foresight interview with author Nicholas Carr(link to the audio archive of the show), I mentioned that I am going to launch an informal project to inquire into the strategic advantage created by technology for associations, and I asked people to check out the blog today for more information.
The short story: we will pursue this project through The Center for Association Leadership Technology Community. There will be more to say about the project soon, but I at least wanted to get the word out there. If you're interested in this project, send me an e-mail or post a comment to this blog. If you're interested in joining one of the Center's learning communities (in addition to technology, there are learning communities for professional development, large associations, small associations, senior staff and emerging leaders), please send an e-mail to Anne Blouin at The Center for Association Leadership.
Well, it's Day 2 of The Seven Days of Blog and we're having some interesting discussions in this space. I want to encourage you to get your friends and colleagues in the association community involved in reading and posting to The Association Innovation Blog. TAIB (that's The Association Innovation Blog) is intended to be a dialogue with the association community, and we need to get more people in the conversation. So join us!
Okay, just a few random musings this evening....
+I was down at The Center for Association Leadership for part of today for its Great Ideas Conference. In the morning, I attended a very interesting session on building community that examined the experiences of three different associations. Each experience had similarities and differences of course, but I believe they were bound by the common idea of leveraging social capital to create an engaging, welcoming and compelling space in which community members want to actively participate in co-creating their own value.
Lately, however, I've heard the phrase "building community as a core competence of associations" thrown around a great deal and I'm not sure what to make of it. Specifically, I'm not sure whether we should contemplate something as deep and complex as creating vibrant, lasting communities as the core competence of every association (not every association has it), but rather as an unevenly distributed competence held in part by a number of different organizations in the association world. There are implications to be drawn out here, but I'm still reflecting on this point, so I'd appreciate your perspectives.
+I also participated as a panelist on session that focused on the value of coaching. I worked with a coach for a four-period from 1999 to 2003. It was a great experience for me--one from which I benefited tremendously--and I wholeheartedly encourage others to consider it. You can find coaching resources online at the web site of the International Coaching Federation.
+In the last week or so, there has been a very interesting discussion on strategic planning taking place on the ASAE Executive Management Section listserver. I have been something of an instigator of that conversation since I exclaimed that strategic planning is dead. (I'm not the first, of course, and doubt I'll be the last.) Loyal TAIB readers know that I find strategic planning to be an outdated methodology better suited to an operating environment that no longer exists. In other words, strategic planning is mostly a waste of the association's limited resources. I know that this perspective disappoints many association community leaders, but I believe it's time to face facts. Strategy-making in times of great complexity and limitless opportunity require fundamentally different approaches to get to the clearest, simplest and most focused strategic direction for the organization. Strategic planning just doesn't get us there anymore, so why should we keep on doing it? Why can't we just let it go and move on to what's next? Everyone else has...
+Once again, I want to thank everyone who sent me birthday greetings yesterday. I also want to extend a special thanks to Jackie Huba, yesterday's opening keynote speaker at The Center's Great Ideas Conference for a terrific birthday present: a big-time plug of AIB to conference participants. Apparently, Jackie had very nice things to say about my blog and about me. While I wasn't there to hear any of this, it was reported back to me by multiple sources. Of course, I'm flattered for TAIB to be held up as an example of what associations should be doing. I agree with Jackie that associations must leverage the power of blogs, wikis and social network tools to enrich virtual interaction, create meaningful conversations and support innovation. At the moment, the blogosphere (as the universe of blogs is called) includes relatively few association-related sites. What do we fear from blogging? If anything, I think we should be the ones who are embracing it to the greatest possible extent. I mean, if associations are serious about creating communities, where are the communities of bloggers hiding?
I'm done for tonite. I'm pretty tired, so who knows how coherent it is. Let's learn again tomorrow as 7DoB continues!